Two Borders One Day

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Sadly we had to leave our “home” in Salvador, because Fernandita we have to head south again.

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We left early for the border, but the lure of “the new road” led us off track for an epic ride thru the hills and left us 90 min behind schedule on our dual border day.

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I have been dreading the Honduras crossing for the last few months. We had heard it was the “worst crossing in the world” and a bureaucratic nightmare. Ride reports are full of stories of how people are stopped by police every 20 km of the 150 plus crossing to Nicaragua and must pay trumped up fines costing hundreds of dollars. Mario did say that the police problem had been cleared up in the last year.

We did hear that it was easier at the customs on Sundays as that eliminated travel to the bank to pay fees that you can then just pay at the border. We started our day from San Salvador at 730 on a sunny, but very windy day.

Reaching the first check to exit El Salvador and cancel the vehicle import at 1135 we were directed by a nice policeman where to park. “Helpers” then mobbed us. The policeman came over and very slowly in Spanish explained exactly where to go and where and how many copies we needed to get. That got rid of our offers for “help”. He also told us to drive 3.5 km to the border, and not to stop at the dome building before that that looks like it is the border. Daniel had printed off detailed and very accurate instructions from the net at living remotely

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The next step was then to get our El Salvador exit stamp on the Salvador side of the border. The helpers there may also tell you that you need to change money with them, because “you cannot get any local currency and they do not take US dollars in Nicaragua”. There is an ATM at the Nicaraguan aduana that dispenses Cordoba and USD. Plus everyone takes USD in Nicaragua.

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Crossing the bridge into Honduras you are stopped by an official who asks for your passport and directs you to park at the customs building.

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The guys then headed to immigration while customs was of course closed for lunch when we arrived. They also made several trips across the bridge to El Salvador to get copies since the power was out due to the wind. My job as usual was to stay in the shade and watch the bikes.

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There is such a lot of bureaucracy here, but just grin and bear it and maybe have some Flora. This is a photo of the pile of paper they make with your 5 copies of everything. Daniel is checking the VIN numbers on the import permit as there have been stories of people getting charged a lot of $ on exiting the country if the VIN on your import is “incorrect”. Finally we have the 24 hour transit import permit!

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We left the Honduras crossing at 230 despite having arrived there at lunch when they are closed and that the wind had knocked out the power so everything was done by hand. We were stopped shortly after leaving at a police check…here it goes…, but all he did was shake our hands say ” welcome to Honduras. The speed limit is 50 km/h”. Well maybe Mario was right.

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Crossing this country is a bit like driving a Mad Max wasteland. The last 50 km of highway is a mess with huge deep holes all over. That said we had no real issues at the border and though we were stopped briefly at 3 police checks in Honduras, they asked politely to see our documents for the bikes and then shook our hands and welcomed us to their country. One of them even told me I should put sunscreen on since my cheeks were burnt.

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First we had to go to the Honduras aduana  to exit stamps and to cancel the TVIP. The TVIP took longer to get than the time we used it!

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Entering Nicaragua was easy especially if you are on a bike and do not need to wait in the huge line of trucks. After a quick spray down of the bikes with some toxic substance we headed to the air-conditioned aduana (Ah back to civilization).

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They are more efficient here and the official checked all three VIN numbers at once.

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We finally left the Nicaragua crossing at 530. This meant that the sun did set on us, but luckily we arrived at Chinandega just at dark. It was now time for Tona and Tostones con queso frito!

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